More than a thousand people are awaiting rescue on the Costa Allegra cruise ship after a fire broke out on board causing the luxury liner to lose power.
The ship is adrift in the Indian Ocean more than 200 miles from the Seychelles island nation off mainland Africa, an area that is infested by pirates.
This is the second emergency situation this year for Costa Cruises which is owned by Carnival Cruises. In January, 32 people were killed when the Costa Concordia capsized after hitting rocks off the Italian island of Giglio. Seven people are still missing and presumed dead.
The Italian cruise line released a statement saying no one was injured, and the blaze that broke out in the engine room in the ship's aft was quickly extinguished. A spokesman for the Italian coast guard said the Seychelles Navy is sending rescue vessels-- including tug boats-- and a plane that has spotted the Allegra's location.
"The passengers and crew are in safe condition," said Commander Cosimo Nicastro of the Italian coast guard. "They are not necessarily comfortable because the ship only has emergency power on board, but they are safe."
"The winds right now are blowing at about 25 knots but we are not worried because it is a big ship, so the weather is not a concern," Nicastro said.
He said the Italian coast guard used satellite systems to spot nearby vessels that have agreed to assist in the emergency. A French fishing boat should reach the Allegra tonight. Another fishing boat should arrive by 5 a.m., and three merchant ships are also on the way.
Eight U.S. citizens are aboard the ship that left Madagascar on Saturday and was supposed to reach the Seychelles tomorrow. The Allegra is carrying 636 passengers and 413 crew members on a nearly month long cruise with numerous stops at island nations off the east coast of Africa along the way to Savona, Italy.
Costa Cruises says crews are inspecting the engine room hoping to restart the equipment necessary for the ship to become operational. The company's website says a live webcam transmission from the Allegra was interrupted at 9:15 GMT, about 25 minutes before the company says the fire was first reported.
- Costa Cruises
- Carnival Cruises